Is social media helping us be better people?

Social media has received a negative reputation, particularly when it comes to mental and physical health, and participation in the real world. I get it. My iPhone’s such a distraction, especially those beckoning little apps. I was even flicking through Instagram before knuckling down to write this. Guilty social-media-addict right here. But something that most of us can agree with is that social media brings us all together. I live nine hours away from my family and Facebook has made staying in touch so easy.

It makes us smarter!

Easy access to information makes us more productive and efficient, with people sharing links to articles that bring attention to news, interesting and educational articles. A demand for faster information and slower attention spans makes us work faster, and the debates online makes us smarter. Author Clive Thompson has even stated that social media has made us better writers and communicators, and better at problem solving and mental tasks. “It is absolutely superior to what I was doing at their age,” he says.

Helping a good cause

Social media brings attention to issues such as ALS, cancer and veteran suicides. Two years ago, celebrities and everyday people participated in the “ice bucket challenge” which was designed to raise awareness and funds for people suffering from ALS. From the donations raised, John E. Landers and his University of Massachusetts Medical School colleagues have discovered a gene NEK1 which is responsible for the disease, making the possibility of developing a treatment drug more possible.

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The successful ice bucket challenge. Source: The ALS Association

 

 

Social media activism

A Facebook trend; “22 push-up challenge“, involves people posting a video of themselves doing 22 push-ups and then tagging a friend to do the same. Roughly 7400 veterans commit suicide every year, which is approximately 22 veterans a day; hence the number of push-ups. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have jumped on the bandwagon much like  Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt did with the ALS ice bucket challenge. These trends have made me do my own research and even teach myself a bit more about these issues, which shows the significant impact they have on everyday people. Check out these compilations of celebrities doing the challenges;  ALS ice bucket challenge and 22 push-up challenge.

Stay in touch

I often use Facebook messenger, Skype and Snapchat to send photographs or messages to family and friends that don’t live near me, and whenever I’m missing them, I suddenly feel a little closer to them.

Needing a little inspiration?

For all of us who sometimes lack a bit of motivation or need a little inspiration, Instagram and Facebook are excellent for motivational fitness, health and affirmation posts. I often share positive memes I see on there and take a moment to reflect on my own life, even if just for a moment, and try to be and think more positively. Personal trainer and bikini model Ashy Bines uses Facebook, live streaming, Instagram and Snapchat to keep her followers updated on her lifestyle and provides advice.

Take something away from it…

Have a look at your own social media habits for a moment, beyond the distraction and health claims. Do you believe you would be as close to your loved ones without it? Would information be as accessible? With all the activist messages and news, what messages have influenced you?

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